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I Agree!

The first Republican presidential primary debateis scheduled for Aug. 23. It is but one of 10 to 12 such events, in addition to at least eight other forums hosted by outside organizations, to say nothing of the array of town halls and one-on-one interviews which will inevitably appear on cable channels, network news, and any number of fringier online video outlets.

By the time the primary race officially begins with the Iowa caucuses in January, we’ll have had dozens of opportunities to see former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the probable also-rans who populate the rest of the field deliver their finely-honed canned sniping and consultant-crafted one-liners.

And that’s exactly the problem: Our presidential elections are far too long and much too stupid.

No one wants this. Certainly, no one needs this. Congress can and should cut down on the stupidity by limiting the length, and this is something our lawmakers could manage with ample bipartisan support.

Election law, particularly where campaign finance is concerned, is often a contentious subject. Who gets to donate and how much money they can give, how and when we can vote, where to draw district lines, who will count the votes and who will check their work—these are all questions easily drawn into partisan battles because of the politically disparate effects different answers can have.

But what I’m interested in here is time, and time passes equally for us all. It also happens to be clearly within congressional purview.

Parts of our election timeline are already determined by federal law and the Constitution. Congress fixed the general Election Day in 1845, a decision prompted by the rise of the telegram. National uniformity was needed, the thinking went, because if news could travel more quickly, early results might unfairly sway decisions in later voting states.

“The sheer length of our presidential elections isn’t only annoying and inconvenient. It’s a two-year simmer, cooking our bitterness at politicians and neighbors alike into a reductive concentrate.”

The Constitution also gives Congress the authority to “determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.” That part happens in mid-December, and the electors’ votes are counted in Washington, D.C. by Congress on—I’m guessing you know this one, given how it went last time—Jan. 6.

Finally, the 20th Amendment, adopted in 1933, finishes out the schedule with the president’s inauguration date, Jan. 20, moved up from Mar. 4 due to faster modes of travel.

So here’s my very simple proposal: If Congress can determine when our presidential elections end, it should also determine when they begin. And they should begin much later than they do.

Other, similar countries do not have elections this long. (The United Kingdom, for example, allows official campaigning for just 25 working days.) They’re spared months of televised inanities. They needn’t pretend to care about the nth “debate” which doesn’t deserve the name. They don’t have a six-month primary debacle in which later votes are not just unfairly swayed but rendered completely irrelevant.

We could be free of all that stuff too. Maybe it would take a constitutional amendment, just to be safe, but I don’t think so, given that 1845 precedent.

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Aug 17, 2023

In addition to the Republican debates I would like to see debates between the Democrat candidates. There are certainly valid concerns about Joe Biden's mental health and a debate with RFK Jr., who is a credible candidate, would allow voters to assess the president's mental acuity under pressure. The other announced Democrat candidate, Mary Ann Williamson, is always entertaining. Unfortunately the DNC has decided not to have debates during the 2024 Democrat primary season. Hmm. . . So much for democracy.

At to the length of the presidential campaigns, chalk it up to three things

1). The big media corporations love it because the extended campaign season drops money in their coffers through hundreds of millions in candidate advertising plus…

Aug 17, 2023
Replying to

Chuck. I agree with you on the Democratic debates.

We can all pray that Joe drops out soon. (And that H. Biden does the right thing and pleads guilty and goes to jail.)

My frustration with the extended campaigns is that it crowds out other news that in my perfect world would educate the electorate.

Return the power to the states!

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